2019 Hyundai Accent
The sub-compact that doesn’t cut any corners.
- Segment-first standard heated front seats
- Available Heated Steering Wheel
- Available Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Virtually unchanged from last year, with minor modifications to trim content
- Part of the fifth Accent generation introduced for 2018
- Comfortable ride and impressively quiet cabin
- Spacious interior with solid, rattle-free build quality
- Long warranty coverage provides peace of mind
- Excellent real-world fuel economy
- Lacks onboard navigation but connects to smartphone nav apps
- Cloth seats are uncomfortable and trap heat
- USB port struggles to charge a phone
- Enhanced safety aids only available on top trim level
8.2 (Manual City)
Engine: 1.6L L4 DOHC 16-valve | Power: 137 hp @ 6300 rpm
Even if the Accent’s primary appeal is its affordability, we think the price increase from the base SE to the SEL (both automatic transmission) is worth it. For the extra money, the SEL offers upgrades such as alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, automatic headlights and smartphone integration. You’ll appreciate having these features over the long term.
Overall rating 7.2 / 10
Freshly overhauled last year, the 2019 Hyundai Accent sedan is roomier, safer and more fuel-efficient than before. It drives even sportier than it looks, thanks to a nicely calibrated suspension and an available manual transmission. We’re not talking autobahn-ready performance here, but the Accent is surprisingly nimble, and it makes for a sensible and stylish subcompact choice.
After a thorough redesign, the Accent is a little longer and wider, and the interior is roomier with more front and rear legroom, and more space between the driver and front passenger. Cargo space remains among the best in the class. There are only minimal changes for 2019, including a new chrome grille for Limited trim levels and the addition of foglights and chrome exterior trim for SEL models.
The Accent’s four-cylinder engine makes less maximum power (7 horsepower less) than earlier models, but there’s more low-end torque, which proves useful in city driving. With an automatic transmission, the Accent returns a very good 32 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
The Accent also surprises with a comfortable and quiet interior, although we’ve found the seats could be better. They’re relatively flat and shapeless. That said, there’s plenty of room for passengers for a car of this class. The svelte shape of the tapering roofline may give taller rear passengers a bit of a brush with reduced headroom, however.
Overall, the Accent is a handsome car that will endure the daily grind with minimal fuss. We think drivers with longer commutes won’t regret choosing this Accent over a larger, more expensive car. It’s a solid pick for its satisfying combination of performance, utility, comfort and style.
2019 Hyundai Accent configurations
The 2018 Hyundai Accent is a four-door sedan that straddles the line between subcompact and compact. It’s offered in base SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. The SE covers the basics, while the SEL adds more style (alloy wheels) and functionality (7-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). The Limited trim adds conveniences including a sunroof, heated front seats and advanced safety features.
All Accent models use a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine (130 horsepower, 119 pound-feet of torque) and either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Accent is front-wheel-drive.
The SE sedan comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power accessories, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, cruise control, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 5-inch touchscreen display, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD and USB/auxiliary inputs. The six-speed automatic transmission is optional.
The SEL adds 15-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, automatic headlights, foglights, heated side mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a center console storage box with a sliding armrest console, dual USB charging ports, Bluetooth with voice commands, a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay-Android Auto smartphone integration, and an upgraded six-speaker sound system.
Moving up to the Limited brings 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, side mirror-integrated turn signals, a sunroof, a hands-free trunk, keyless entry, push-button start, automatic climate control, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a three-year subscription to Hyundai Blue Link Connected Services. It includes features such as app-based remote start and locking and unlocking, vehicle diagnostics and emergency collision notification. The Limited also features forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, which aren’t available on the two lower-level trims.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Hyundai Accent SE (1.6L inline-4 | 6-speed manual | FWD).
Economy cars aren’t known for performance and the Accent doesn’t break the stereotype. That doesn’t mean it’s bad to drive, though. Aside from stiff steering, the car is communicative, and although the engine is weak, it’s responsive. The manual shifter is intuitive with positive shifts.
The engine may sound like it has a frog in its throat, but it has a good response. From a dead stop, the Accent can accelerate up to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which is fair for this segment. But the engine feels labored at higher rpm, making highway-speed passing anemic unless you downshift a gear.
The Accent slows easily thanks to a firm pedal, predictable response and a communicative chassis. There’s a mild amount of brake dive, and aggressive braking from high speeds can invoke a mild dose of tail wag. Our test car measured 60-to-0 mph panic-stop distance of 129 feet, slightly longer than average.
This is the Accent’s weakness. On the plus side, it responds predictably to steering inputs, larger bumps don’t generate kickback, and we can feel the road while cornering. But there’s simply no on-center feel when driving straight, and it always feels bound up with excessive friction.
Despite vague and bound-up steering, our Accent SE does indeed feel nimble and stable. Turn-in is quick, making it feel light on its feet, and it remains stable even when cornering on bumpy surfaces. Skinny tires become the limiting factor when pushed hard, but 0.82g of grip is respectable.
The Accent’s precise and linear throttle makes it easy to maintain speed or make minor speed adjustments without thinking. While the clutch pedal is light and vague at the top of its travel, the bite point is easy to feel. Likewise, the shifter isn’t buttery smooth, but the gears are easy to find.
The Accent is generally pleasant from a comfort perspective, but the flat seats are a notable demerit. The ride strikes a good balance between too hard and too sloppy, though road noise does increase with speed, particularly on coarser surfaces. The climate control system is easy and effective.
Seat comfort 5.0
The very definition of basic car seats, they’re cloth and offer virtually no bolstering. They also absorb heat and lack support, so long trips on hot days may get uncomfortable. The relative lack of side bolstering does have one benefit, though: It facilitates in-seat stretching and moving around.
Ride comfort 7.5
The Accent’s body can move about on wavy surfaces, but never in amounts that feel floaty or bothersome. The suspension does a good job of absorbing the shock of obvious sharp-edged bumps, such as potholes. But it’s less adept at filtering out smaller irregularities and coarse surfaces.
Noise & vibration 7.5
At idle, the engine is smooth and quiet. The only way to tell that the engine is on is to give the throttle a little blip or look at the tachometer. The road and tires produce a modest level of noise when underway, with wind noise a close second. Bumps and coarse road textures make themselves heard.
Climate control 7.5
It’s no surprise that the budget-priced Accent SE features old-school three-knob controls, and the layout is obvious and easy to use. The fan gets a bit loud above the midlevel setting, but there’s enough cold air that you probably won’t need to use the hurricane setting very often.
No different from any other small car, the Accent prioritizes size over comfort. Front-seaters can get in and out just fine, but taller rear seaters will be compromised due to a low roofline. And be prepared to get cozy with your seatmates. We wish for a telescoping steering wheel.
Ease of use 8.0
The Accent SE is a budget-priced car that lacks some of the advanced systems found at higher price points, and that works in its favor because the controls can be simple and straightforward. There’s no guesswork, no learning curve. The Accent is one of the easiest cars to simply get in and drive.
Getting in/getting out 7.0
The front seats are accessible because they’re close to the door opening, but those with limited flexibility might find them too low. In back, a wide rear door opening gives full access to the rear seat, but the sleek roofline may prompt some occupants to duck on the way in.
Driving position 7.0
The manual seat is adjustable for height, so short and tall alike should find a good setting. The ergonomics of the cabin make for a natural fit for drivers of low-to-average height. Taller drivers will fit comfortably, but they may have to reach for the wheel because the tilt-only adjuster does not telescope.
The Accent may be small, but it feels fairly large inside thanks in part to a dash that slopes forward to create a roomy feel. Headroom is excellent up front, but the same cannot be said of the back seat, where tall rear passengers and those with a long torso may have issues with the sleek roof.
Forward visibility is excellent thanks to a low hood and cowl, but the nicely sized door-mounted mirrors do create mild front-quarter blind spots. Rear visibility is satisfactory because the trunk isn’t terribly high. The SE also has a rearview camera that helps when backing up.
Befitting the Accent’s low price, its interior features hard plastics, synthetic cloth and hard rubber. But we heard nary a squeak nor rattle, and all interior pieces and exterior panels fit together surprisingly well, with gaps and surface finishes rivaling those seen in cars many times pricier.
Small sedans aren’t known for cargo space, but the Accent’s decent-sized trunk is efficiently shaped and expandable by folding the rear seatbacks. Cabin storage is fairly agreeable but nothing special. It’s easy to install car seats, but rear-facing ones may not fit because the Accent is small.
Small-item storage 7.0
The door pockets are thin, but they can hold a small water bottle. The cupholders behind the shift console are low and sized for regular cups, and there’s a single larger one in between the front seatbacks. The storage nook in front of the shifter is deep, but certain plus-sized smartphones don’t fit.
Cargo space 7.5
On numbers alone, the Accent’s 13.7 cubic feet of space is middle of the pack. But it’s better than average because the opening is large, the loading height is low, and the trunk floor is lower still. It also has 60/40-split folding seatbacks, but these fall short because the folded seatbacks don’t fold flat.
Child safety seat accommodation 7.0
The rear seat features three easy-to-access top tethers and four LATCH anchors located in between the bottom seat cushion and seatback. The anchors are labeled, but they are deep in the seat seam. Rear-facing seats may well require the front seats to scoot forward due to the limited rear knee room.
We expect limited technology features on a budget model. The SE’s mediocre sound quality is unimpressive, and we’re not OK with a USB outlet that doesn’t provide enough current to charge today’s crop of smartphones. Other Accent trim levels (SEL and up) have a somewhat better audio system.
Audio & navigation6.0
We didn’t expect much from the low-buck Accent SE, so we weren’t overly disappointed by the four-speaker stereo’s soft and muddy audio quality and lack of punch. The radio is strictly AM/FM, though it can play music from external devices using USB, Bluetooth and the auxiliary jack.
Smartphone integration 6.0
Bluetooth pairing is fairly easy if a little slow. The USB port allowed us to import music and select songs, but the power it provides is too weak to lift the charge of the phone while it was serving music or navigating. Listening via Bluetooth while charging with the cigarette lighter works best.